Ladybird (Green Grass)


And there's a big concert going down in this town
People cannot see society had broken down  (1)
I sat upon the green grass but it just brought me down
And the wife said 'get up' and it just brought me round

Fly ladybird, get right outta town
Use your transparent wings
Ladybird fly, fly ladybird (2)

Green grass was purple black and speckled all around
Round the ring, this Croat town 
The gas was obnoxious
It made me settle down, so I sat down
And the guy said 'get up' and it just brought me down

Fly ladybird, ladybird flee
Get right outta town, use your transparent wings
Above the leaping flames, get right outta here
Flee ladybird, ladybird fly

Pomerania is burning down. (3)
Your family is gone, shot dead
Get right out of it
See the epaulette
Death: to let  (4)

Small change attached
I thought it was there but it just brought me down
Ripped the magazine open, it brought me round
Green grass was clear in the boundary zone
Grass faded into Wimpey brick in the ground  (5)

Mother's somewhere in Pomerania, but Pomerania is burning down
Eine kleine Meisterwerk, settled in my bones  (6)
Fly! Fly ladybird
Get right off the ground
Use your transparent wings
Get right outta here.


1. Dan points out that the Fall played at the Glastonbury festival on June 27th, 1992; this song debuted on October 3rd of that year. Dan suspects the "big concert, and concomitant breakdown of society, may be a reference to Glastonbury. See "Bonkers in Phoenix" for another song that seemingly comments on the horrors of an outdoor music festival. 


2. A ladybird is called a ladybug in American English. Here and elsewhere the lyrics draw on a familiar children's rhyme which dates back to at least 1744:

Ladybird, ladybird fly away home
Your house is on fire, your children will burn 

Ladybugs (I am an American) indeed have transparent wings underneath outer, hardened elytra or wing covers bearing the familiar red with black polka dot pattern. In many countries there is a tradition that it is bad luck to kill a ladybug. They also eat aphids (the topic of another song), which has led to speculation that farmers encouraged the rhyme as a way of dissuading children from killing the bugs, instead shooing one away if it landed on an arm or leg.  

As is the case with "Free Range" from roughly the same period, here MES adopts the stance of a prophet of European doom. 


3. Here MES alludes to the German version of the nursery rhyme, which is probably of more recent vintage than the English:

Maikaefer flieg
Vater ist im Krieg
Mutter ist in Pommerland
Pommerland ist abgebrannt
Maikaefer flieg.·
cockchafer fly
father is at war
mother is in Pomerania
Pomerania is burnt down
cockchafer fly

A cockchafer, like a ladybug, is a kind of beetle, although it is very different in appearance from its cousin. Pomerania, on the south shore of the Baltic sea, is today divided between Germany and Poland. The German rhyme is thought to make reference to the Thirty Years War, when Pomerania was ravaged. During the second World War, Germany annexed Poland and took control of the whole of Pomerania, where much of the population--particularly Jews--was again massacred. After the war, Pomerania came under Soviet control and all Germans on the east side of the German-Polish line were deported, and the rhyme took on a new resonance. As noted in the entry from Reformation, at this time "Ethnic Germans were also expelled from Yugoslavia, which maybe explains the reference to the Croat town."   
The Fall toured Germany in June 1992; this was also the year when Yugoslavia finally broke up for good.
4. An epaulette is a military ornamental shoulder piece denoting rank; in the (older) Peel version Smith says "Death: to rent," which suggests, interestingly--unless it's a flub--that the lyric wasn't originally formulated for the sake of the rhyme.  
5. The Wimpey no-fines house was a method of house construction adopted in Britain after World War II, when thousands of publicly owned homes were constructed to meet the huge demand for cheap housing. The exteriors of Wimpey no-fines houses are generally concrete, but brick was often used in the interior. "No-fines" refers to the fact that there were no fine aggregates in the concrete. The result is a distinctive looking slad or wall, with the course aggregate remaining visible, kind of like a Rice Krispy treat. Wimpey brick is just brick, on the other hand, that happens to have been laid by employees of Wimpey. 
"Prole Art Threat" mentions a "Wimpey crane."
6. Eine kleine Meisterwerk means "a small masterwork," and could be rendered as "a minor masterpiece." Most English speakers are probably familiar with the construction "Eine Kleine..." from Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, "A Little Night Music."

Comments (5)

  • 1. Mark | 21/05/2014
Werner Blockbuster
  • 2. Werner Blockbuster | 30/03/2018
The feeding of the five thousand:

Mark 6:39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass.

Just a thought.
  • 3. dannyno | 05/04/2018
Probably worth noting, since nobody else has, that The Fall played Glastonbury on 27 June 1992, just a few months before the first live appearance of this song on 3 October 1992, albeit half-formed lyrically. I think there's something of a critique of Glastonbury in the lines about "society broken down".

Also worth noting, since apparently nobody else has that The Fall toured Germany in June 1992.

I also think we need to note more explicitly the significance of the dissolution of Yugoslavia in 1991, which as already noted formed the backdrop to songs like Free Range. In MES's 3 April 1993 NME interview with John Harris (, MES notes that when they toured Greece in November 1992, "we were driving up in the hills, and seeing jets bombing Yugoslavia."
  • 4. harleyr | 05/06/2019
>>And there's a big concert going down in this town
People cannot see society had broken down

and dannyno's comment above
>> I think there's something of a critique of Glastonbury in the lines about "society broken down".

I think the point Smith was trying to make here is that a music festival looks like a community - and is often celebrated as such - but meanwhile the real society around it is collapsing without anyone noticing.
  • 5. bzfgt (link) | 03/07/2019
Yeah, I think that's plausible for sure.

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